Category Archives: Fine Dining

Sunstone Winery Wedding: The Food

When I started planning my wedding last year, one of my biggest priorities was to have delicious food.  I wanted a meal that would be memorable and one that our guests would remember.  Thanks to my amazing wedding planner and the culinary talents of Trattoria Grappolo, Sunstone Winery and Solvang Bakery, we got that meal and then some.

All of these pictures in this post are from my amazingly talented wedding photographer Dana Grant, and pretty much make me hungry every time I look at them.  The Englishman and I tasted everything that was served before our big day, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the end result.

For our cocktail hour, we had three different Sunstone Wines: Rose, Grenache Blanc and Merlot along with an assortment of beers for guests to sip while they enjoyed some passed appetizers.

Sunstone Winery Wedding WinesFor our passed appetizers, we decided on some bacon wrapped shrimp, bruschetta toasts, melon wrapped in prosciutto and house made potato chips with burrata and guava.

Sunstone Winery Wedding AppetizersIn short, it was AMAZING.  All of it.

Sunstone Winery BruschettaI couldn’t get enough of the house made potato chips either as evidenced when the Englishman and I paid a visit to chef Leonardo for a snack.

Sunstone Winery Food WeddingPretty soon it was time for the champagne toasts and to dig into dinner.

Sunstone Winery ChampagneFor dinner, we started our meal with freshly baked bread and olive oil (one of the best combos ever in my opinion).

Sunstone Winery Wedding BreadThe salad course included a classic Caprese and a Caesar salad.

Sunstone Winery Caprese SaladFor our entrée, we decided on a rustic roast chicken with vegetables and a penne amatriciana.

Sunstone Winery PenneEverything was served family style so guests could enjoy as much as they wanted (I loved having dinner this way!)

Roast ChickenThen it was time for our delicious cake!  If you read my post on Solvang Bakery, then you’ll know that they made sure the cake was free of any allergens and made from scratch.

Solvang Bakery Wedding CakeNot only was our cake gorgeous, but it was GOOD.  Best cake I’ve ever had hands down.

Wedding Cake EatingWe ended up going with two different flavors – chocolate with lemon buttercream and carrot with lemon buttercream.  We have the top tier in our freezer but somehow I don’t think it will last until next year.

Sunstone Winery GelatoIn addition to cake there was gelato, which I never got to try (still broken up about it), but it was a big hit among our guests, especially since it came with little sugar cones.

Wedding Sunstone GelatoAnd that was our wedding food.  Huge thanks again to Dana Grant Photography and her amazing pictures!  If you are ever in the Santa Ynez area be sure to pop into Sunstone Winery for a glass of rose, Solvang Bakery for some baked goodies, and Trattoria Grappolo for an amazing meal.  I’m already planning my return trip up there to eat all of it again.

Lark Creek Newport Beach

I realized it’s been quite some time since I reviewed an Orange County restaurant on my blog.  In fact, the last time I wrote a review was back in October!  Between wedding planning, work travel, and recipe development at home, I just haven’t been dining out as much.  This past weekend though I did make it out for a delicious dinner at Lark Creek Newport Beach.

The Englishman and I have heard nothing but great things about Lark Creek Newport Beach and decided to treat my parents to dinner there since they were big fans as well.  The restaurant is located in Fashion Island and has a wonderful outdoor patio area complete with fire pits and nice couches.  Since it was a bit chilly out we opted to dine inside, but I can definitely see myself returning in the summer for some cocktails and food on the patio.

The menu at Lark Creek Newport Beach focuses on seasonal cuisine which I happen to love because not only does the menu change frequently, but it also means you are getting the freshest produce available.

We decided to start our meal with a bottle of Rose, since the Englishman and I are obsessed after traveling to Oregon this summer.

Lark Creek Newport Beach RoseFor our entrees, I had my eye on the Truffle Burger so I ordered that as well as the Caesar Salad and split both with the Englishman.

Lark Creek Newport Beach Truffle Burger 1The burger was topped with black truffle cheese and truffle aioli and was cooked perfectly.  The fries on the side were a nice complement as well.  My only comment is the burger really wasn’t big enough to share between two people, and at $23, I felt the price was a bit steep for what you got.

Lark Creek Newport Beach Truffle Burger 2The Caesar Salad was good, just your basic salad.  It was good that we ordered this as well since the burger was on the small side.

Lark Creek Newport Beach CaesarMy mom ordered the Day Boat Scallops which were melt in your mouth good.

Lark Creek newport beach scallopsJust like the burger, the scallop dish was on the pricier side ($25) and she only got three small scallops and cauliflower puree. I would’ve liked to see a little more for the price.

It’s currently Crab Month at Lark Creek Newport Beach, so my dad ordered the Combo Louis Salad ($19) that came with dungeness crab, shrimp, lettuce, avocado and egg.  I happen to love dungeness crab so I snuck a couple of bites of his salad and they were delicious.

Lark Creek Newport Beach Crab Louis SaladFor dessert we ordered profiteroles, which were stuffed with caramel ice cream instead of traditional cream.

Lark Creek Newport Beach ProfiterolesThe pastry was light and flaky and I loved the ice cream inside of the profiteroles.  We practically licked the plate clean.

And since it was an ice cream kind of night we got a scoop of chocolate and vanilla.  Not the most exciting choice, but delicious nonetheless.

Lark Creek Newport Beach ice CreamI really liked the food at Lark Creek Newport Beach, but I did feel some items were over priced, and I have to mention the service.  While our waiter was nice and attentive, the lag time between courses was a bit significant.  It took a while to get the wine we ordered, and then the wait time between dinner and dessert was pretty high as well.  Since I’ve worked in the restaurant industry in the past, I definitely understand the timing between courses, but this seemed a bit excessive.

I’d like to come back to Lark Creek and try some of their menu items and see if the service is still an issue.  AND they have happy hour specials every day from 3-6.  Weekend happy hour anyone?

Dinner at Five Crowns

So we all know I love SideDoor in Corona del Mar.  I’ve had my engagement pics taken there, I’ve had brunch there and I’ve gotten drinks there.  The Englishman and I love the cozy pub feel and delicious food.  In all the times I have been to SideDoor, I never ventured next door to have dinner at Five Crowns.  Until now.

I was recently invited to have dinner at Five Crowns, which is an Orange County staple.  Known for their prime rib dinners and delightful English decor, Five Crowns is one of those places you just have to go to at least once (if not more often).  The Englishman and I got dressed in our best and prepared to feast on a prime rib dinner with Yorkshire pudding, but instead were treated to a different meal that surprised us in the best way possible.

dinner at five crowns martiniWe started our evening with some drinks and I went with my personal favorite, a vodka martini with olives, while the Englishman had a beer flight recommended by our waiter Trey who was absolutely wonderful.

dinner at five crowns beer flightSince this was our first time dining at Five Crowns, it was recommended that we let the chef prepare some of his signature dishes for us instead of ordering off the menu.  The restaurant was also very accommodating to my food allergies and made sure that the dishes I was served did not have corn, soy or walnuts.

The first course we were served was Grilled Prawns with a side salad, also known as a secret off the menu option.  When the dish arrived with steaming prawns on top of a hot stone with rock salt, I knew we were in for a treat.

Dinner at Five Crowns PrawnsAnd what a treat it was!  I’ve dined at a number of restaurants where the seafood is often overcooked and rubbery, but these prawns were cooked to perfection.  I seriously could’ve eaten an entire meal of just prawns alone.

The next course was the Watermelon and Beet Salad which came with goat cheese, crispy quinoa, and avocado.

Dinner at Five Crowns Watermelon and Beet SaladEver since I had the beet and goat cheese combo at Mesa I’ve been a fan, and this did not disappoint.  I loved the creamy goat cheese mixed with the beets and crunchy quinoa.  It is well-known that the Englishman is not a big goat cheese fan, but he loved this dish as well.

Next up was our mains.  Filet Mignon for her, and a Berkshire Pork Chop with creamy grits and broccolini for him.

Dinner at Five Crowns berkshire pork chopI rarely (if ever) order pork when I’m dining out and I was pleasantly surprised by this pork chop.  It was so tender and juicy and I loved the seasoning.  The Englishman also gave the grits high marks.

dinner at five crowns filet mignonI also loved the filet as well.  I am notorious for ordering meat well done, and this one was medium well and so delicious.  This filet mignon alone has changed the way I will order steak when dining out now.

We were also presented with a lovely dish of Truffle Mac ‘n Cheese to enjoy with our main courses.  And if it has the word truffle in it, you know it’s going to be good.

dinner at five crowns truffle mac n cheeseThe mac ‘n cheese was rich and creamy, and pretty much everything you could ask for.  No processed fake cheese here folks.

The grand finale of the evening was a Lemon Mascarpone Cheesecake topped with strawberry pepper jam and whipped cream.

dinner at five crowns lemon mascarponeCheesecake is usually a hit or miss dessert for me, but since this was made with mascarpone, the flavor was out of this world.  It really is the perfect summer dessert and the pepper jam gave it a nice punch.

Our dinner at Five Crowns was definitely one for the books.  The service was impeccable and the food was just so good.  While the prime rib is a restaurant staple, Five Crowns has so many other wonderful dishes to offer as well.

A big thank you to Five Crowns for treating us to such a lovely meal.  I’m already planning my return visit to get some more prawns.  And steak.  And cheesecake.

2011 Food Highlights

As 2011 wraps to a close I thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of the dining adventures that I had over the past year.  There were some highs, there were some lows (cough Ecco) but overall it was a great year for food.  I can’t wait to see what 2012 brings!  I already have some places on my must try list…

Here is the best of the best for 2011:

Best Organic Restaurant:  True Food Kitchen

My love affair with True Food Kitchen began early this year and hasn’t let up since.  I love the breakfasts, the freshly made hummus, the light flatbreads and of course the mojitos.  There will definitely be more True Food Kitchen in 2012.

Best Italian:  Cucina Alessa

Cucina Alessa is by far the best Italian restaurant I’ve been to in the O.C.  All the pasta is freshly made and the butternut squash ravioli is something else.  If you are looking for the real deal when it comes to Italian food, this is your place.

Best Mexican:  Mi Casa in Cabo San Lucas, MX

Mariachis, margaritas the size of your head and authentic Mexican cuisine.  Does it get any better?  I think not.  The chicken enchiladas were the best ones I’ve had in a long time.

Best Bar:  SideDoor

SideDoor was an early discovery in 2011 and I’m sad to say I haven’t been back since.  I loved the pub feel, loved the food, and loved the wine.  More return trips are in my future.

Best Burger:  Paul Martin’s American Grill

Paul Martin’s breathed fresh life into Irvine’s dining scene and I hope to see more places like this in 2012.  The burger I had was cooked to perfection and was incredibly juicy and flavorful.  The dirty martini that went with the burger didn’t hurt either.

Best Dessert: Sugar Blossom Bake Shop

Sugar Blossom Bake Shop was a refreshing change from your standard cupcake-chain fare. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Sprinkles, but I also loved the delicious cupcakes and unique flavors that Sugar Blossom had to offer.  In addition to cupcakes Sugar Blossom has cookies and other treats, namely a chocolate covered macaroon that I basically had a love affair with.  The carrot cake cupcake comes in a close second.

Best Bakery/Breakfast:  C’est Si Bon

C’est Si Bon isn’t new to Orange County, but it was a new discovery to me this year.  The scones are amazing, the croissants are nice and flaky and there is always a line out the door.  That should tell you something right there.

Best Cheap Eats:  Bruxie

Waffle sandwiches that are freshly made at a cheap price?  Sign me up.  Bruxie makes delicious waffle sandwiches with delectable fillings such as eggs and bacon, fried chicken and pastrami.  If you are skeptical about the idea of a waffle sandwich fear not – these sandwiches are a must try.

And that’s a wrap for 2011!  Bring on the good eats 2012!